Surfside Crossing Opponents Decry Town's Decision To Drop Appeal

Jason Graziadei •

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Signs by the opposition group Nantucket Tipping Point still adorn island roadsides.

Opponents of the Surfside Crossing 40B development reacted with surprise, concern, and skepticism to Tuesday's announcement that the town was dropping its appeal of the controversial project, and had reached an accord with its developers.

But they also took the opportunity to renew their objections to Surfside Crossing, and expressed their resolve to continue fighting against it.

For years, the opposition to Surfside Crossing by the Nantucket Land Council and The Nantucket Tipping Point group had been buoyed by the town's own formal resistance to the project. But that relationship was swiftly undercut with Tuesday's joint statement from the Select Board and Surfside Crossing, announcing a "collaborative agreement."

"Nantucket Tipping Point will continue to ask about the unresolved issues and appeal the risky development to the fullest extent of the law," said Nantucket Tipping Point president Will Willauer. "All partners in the appeal were not brought to the table. If this is such a good deal, why weren’t we and the Nantucket Land Council included? The town is giving up something they can never get back. What are the developers giving up? There’s been no explanation of who’s paying for this and as we’ve seen with Richmond, etc. and the constant asking of waivers, we know who will pay for it. Nantucket Tipping Point continues to be the watchdog for what the town is not doing to protect the community."

Both Nantucket Tipping Point and the Nantucket Land Council's lawsuits against Surfside Crossing seeking to overturn the state Housing Appeals Committee's approval of the project remain pending in Nantucket Superior Court. The Land Council is also seeking to challenge the issuance of Surfside Crossing's conservation management permit from the state. 

The Land Council's president, Lucy Dillon, and executive director Emily Molden, said those legal challenges will continue. 

"The NLC is surprised by the recent agreement announced by the Select Board with Surfside Crossing developers," Dillon and Molden said in a statement shared with the Current. "We have, from the beginning, been advocating for greater balance of community needs, which is what the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) sought when they initially permitted a 60 unit development at this site. The current 156 unit development has never been reviewed by our local ZBA, whose role is to condition these projects to mitigate for negative impacts.

"The NLC is a strong supporter for addressing community housing needs, but as we have always asserted the costs associated with this particular project are too great at this density in this location," Dillon and Molden continued. "The Surfside Crossing developers have made no settlement overture to the Land Council to address our concerns. At this time the NLC will proceed with its appeals of the Housing Appeals Committee decision as well as the state Conservation Management Permit, both of which will be heard in the coming weeks."

Meghan Perry, a member of Nantucket Tipping Point and a South Shore Road property owner who has been perhaps the most vocal opponent of Surfside Crossing, reiterated the concern that the developers have stated their goals, but there is still no firm commitments in writing. 

"I have requested from the Town Manager and received that there is 'nothing in writing' and we have seen how good faith partnerships with these two developers and the town of Nantucket have played out in the past," Perry said, referencing Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner's involvement with the Sconset Beach Preservation Fund's geotube project. "Nantucket Tipping Point stands by why we originally appealed this project and will continue to in court. There are many unanswered questions regarding this project. There were no concessions made by the developers on any of the concerns brought up during the ZBA hearings such as density, traffic, sewer, water, environmental issues etc. Additionally, the ZBA, like the Con Com, does not have to agree to this and should be obtaining  independent counsel."

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